Jitu Vaghani, minister for education in Gujarat, requested the sarpanch of Rantej village in North Gujarat’s Mehsana district, Meenaba Zala, to remove her veil before the congratulatory ceremony at an event. Meenaba is the first-ever female sarpanch of the village. Vaghani was attending the launch of annual school enrolment and ‘Kanya Kelavani’ schemes here.
During the event, Vaghani saw the difference between how men and women in the village behaved. Meenaba, who had a veil on, was sitting with the village females on the floor while men sat on chairs beside them. Vaghani made a polite request to Meenaba and asked her to remove her veil to move away from gender stereotypes.
Vaghani’s request was met with resistance from the men of the village. Answering a response from the men, “Rajput women do not remove their veil,” the minister questioned the function of caste in this matter. “Darbar, Patel, Vaniya, or Brahmin, see how happy these women are and the blessings they will give you.”
Furthermore, stating that though he thinks that these traditions aren’t bad, Vaghani insisted on changing with the world to move forward to break gender stereotypes. “By doing this (removing veil), we do not lose our maan maryaada. Follow everything but at home.”
Finally, a village elder on stage agreed with the minister. The sarpanch then removed her veil, showing her face, and a chair was arranged for her on stage.
First woman sarpanch of the village
Meenaba, who won the elections by defeating four other candidates six months ago, agreed with the minister. She expressed her thoughts, stating the need for women to come out of this tradition. She encouraged women to leave their veils at home and move forward with the progressive time.
A mother of two sons, she wanted to join the police forces, but her strict parents & brother didn’t allow her. She even made out to drop out of college, where she was aiming to pursue B.Com in her first year.